Substitute Goalkeeper Tim Krul saved two Costa Rican penalties as Netherlands won a tight contest 4-2 on penalties after 120 minutes of gruelling action.
The Newcastle United goalkeeper was a substitute in the last minute of the second half of extra time, and he repaid his manger’s faith by saving Ruiz and Umana’s penalties to send his side through.
Costa Rica stubbornly held on amidst a relentless Dutch onslaught, Wesley Sneidjer hitting the bar twice,and Costa Rica coming very close to winning it deep into extra time, Umana’s shot saved from point blank by Dutch goalkeeper Cillessen.
European giants Netherlands squared up against the tournament’s surprise package knowing that underestimating their opponents might leave them victim of a smash and grab robbery such as Italy and Uruguay can attest to.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal lined his team up in their now familiar 3-4-3 formation, heavily reliant on the wing play of Arjen Robben and Memphis Depay.
The goalless opening 45 minutes belied an intriguing game that featured lots of running and little clear cut chances.
The game started at a blistering pace, both sides having pacy players very comfortable on the ball, but despite a lot of running from both sides little clear cut chances were being created.
The first 20 minutes were dry, but the game heated up in the second part of the half, the Dutch creating a few openings but Costa Rican keeper Navas was alert on his line.
In the 22nd minute a great pass found Van Persie free in the box, his shot was stopped by Navas, before a powerful follow up from Sneidjer that was also saved.
Depay was next to be denied by Costa Rica’s number one, before a superb free kick from Sneidjer drew an equally superb save from him as the Dutch could not find a way past the North American side.
Costa Rica created even less chances, Gamboa’s crosses their main outlet but rarely finding their mark. Bolanos was also sending in some balls, and their best chance of the half came from his cross, the goal mouth melee finally cleared to leave Dutch goalkeeper Cillessen breathing a huge sigh of relief.
The second half followed the same script, though this time several chances were created, mostly by the Dutch but Navas and the Costa Rican goal looked spelled. At the other end there was a penalty shout, Campbell shrugged off the ball by Martins Indi but the referee ruled the challenge legitimate.
Robben was the main outlet for the Dutch, getting in impressive positions and winning free-kicks willy-nilly. He set one of those up for Sneidjer, but his shot was too high.
Sneidjer came eerily close to that elusive goal in the 82nd, his powerful shot from a free kick striking the bar.
That chance kicked off a frantic final ten minutes as the Netherlands pushed relentlessly for the winner. A cross was mishandled by Navas, the ball fell to van Persie who beat his man and shot with his right, Navas again equal to the task.
Van Persie missed an even more glaring one in the closing moments of the game, a cross finding him unmarked but his outstretched leg failed to make contact. Just before the final whistle Costa Rica escaped again, van Persie again; this time his shot cleared by a combination of a defender and the post, sending the game into extra time.
The Netherlands continued their onslaught in extra time, yet Costa Rica clung on for dear life. Robben continued to be a nuisance, and it was his corner in the 93rd that found Ron Vlaar’s head, but Navas agaim denied the Dutch, who kept attacking and attacking to no avail. Just before half time for the first period of extra time, Dirk Kuyt’s deep cross was parried away by Navas
The second half of extra time was the best period of the entire game, chances flowing up and down as both sides went for the jugular. Sneidjer hit the crossbar again!, Huntelaar headed a corner over, and Urena came so close to winning it for Costa Rica, but Cillessen stopped the shot with his leg. With penalties imminent, Netherlands brought on Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul for Jasper Cillessen, ostensibly for his penalty saving expertise.
And he repaid his coaches in full measure with a superb performance in the spot kicks, saving two and diving in the right direction for the two he couldn’t save. In the end, the Netherlands set up the semi final against Argentina, whilst Costa Rica can exit with their heads held high, having never actually lost a game throughout the duration of the tournament.